by Ezinne Ajoku
Trump is unlike most American presidents. He came into the White House as a successful real estate giant. He joins a miserly line up of 6 American presidents out of 45 to bring business credentials to the White House. They are:
- Warren Harding (elected 1920), Newspaper publisher
- Herbert Hoover (elected 1928): Mining magnate
- Harry S. Truman (becomes president 1945): Mining and oil investor; Haberdasher
- Jimmy Carter (elected 1976): Peanut farmer
- George H.W. Bush (elected 1988): Oilman
- George W. Bush (elected 2000): Oilman and managing partner of the Texas Rangers
As America’s President, Trump has found ways to put state money into his private coffers.
If there’s a sport American presidents are attracted to, it’s golf. And Trump loves to golf. But unlike other American presidents, Trump plays golf at the courses he owns. VOX explains how it works:
“Like many previous presidents, he golfs. And like all presidents who golf, when he hits the green, he is accompanied by Secret Service agents. The agents use golf carts to get around the courses. And to get their hands on the golf carts, they need to rent them from the golf courses at which the president plays. All of this is fundamentally normal — except for the fact that Trump golfs at courses he owns. So when the Secret Service spends $35,000 on Mar-a-Lago golf cart rentals, it’s not just a normal security expense — Trump is personally profiting from his own protection.”
Special elevator services
Elevator inspection is one of many protective operational measures utilised by the Secret Service. It is fairly normal for the agency to pay a building money to defray the inconvenience of taking elevators offline so they can be inspected for security purposes, but in Trump’s case, he’s making mint off his protective detail.
While Trump resides at the White House, his wife, Melania Trump and son, Barron Trump live at Trump Tower triplex, and will continue to do so for a couple more months. According to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, it costs about $127,000 and $145,000 per day to secure Trump Tower for the First Lady and Barron Trump, and whenever the President is in NYC, that number jumps to $308,000 a day.
The Secret Service has, similarly, paid $64,000 for “elevator services” in Trump Tower. In an interview with FOX, Trump said he avoids going to New York often because “his trips are too expensive for the country”.
The Winter White House
Trump’s favourite place in the world to be after the White House is the Mar-La-Lago, dubbed The Winter White House by Trump’s aides.
TIMES tells the story of how Trump came to be the owner of the prestigious Palm Beach property.
“Mar-a-Lago–the Spanish name means “Sea to Lake”–was built by Marjorie Merriweather Post and opened in 1927. When the cereal heiress died in 1973, she willed it to the U.S. government, hoping the beachfront property, which spans the width of Palm Beach Island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, would become a retreat for Presidents and visiting dignitaries. But Jimmy Carter had little use for it–or the $1 million in annual upkeep–and it was returned to the Post family for sale. Trump quickly made a bid, offering $15 million, he wrote in The Art of the Deal. But Palm Beach didn’t want him. Locals recoiled at having the brash developer as a neighbour, and the Post family foundation hoped to find a more estimable buyer. The rest of the story has become Trump lore. As other offers fell through, the New Yorker put up successively lower bids. He even bought a nearby plot and threatened to build on it to obstruct the estate’s views. Finally, the foundation sold Trump the property for $8 million. “It may be as close to paradise as I’m going to get,” he wrote of the mansion in his book.”
Since assuming the presidency, the Mar-La-Lago has been the President’s weekend get-away place. These trips, though expensive for the state, make Donald Trump richer.
The initiation fee at Mar-a-Lago,” is $200,000–double the price before Trump’s election in November. Add the $14,000 yearly dues and the annual food and beverage minimum and President Trump is quite the rainmaker.
When Trump’s sons fly around the world doing business deals, they too are protected by Secret Service agents whose bills the federal government covers — even if they are staying at Trump properties.
According to a review of purchasing orders by CBS News, Eric Trump’s trip to the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland this week cost over $190,000 for international hotel and car rental costs for the Secret Service agents who protect him and his brother Donald Trump Jr.
All of those bills are paid by taxpayers.
Critics find this grating, particularly because Trump had said he won’t be collecting a salary as president.
State business and family business
No one knows better how to mix state business and family business like the Trump family. They maintain a friendly relationship with China, which has helped ease China’s relationship with the United states. VOX reports that on the very same day daddy’s girl, Ivanka Trump, had dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, she was granted five trademarks by the Chinese government. On that day, as well, Trump broke his campaign pledge to officially designate China as a currency manipulator.
It has to be said that while Trump might be skirting the fine line of ethics and conflict of interest, he certainly doesn’t intend to walk out of the White House poorer than when he got in.